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Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

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Question of the day

Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

I noticed in our sometimes controversial QOTD yesterday that many of you said that as long as Lisa Madigan promised to live in the governor’s mansion there would be no issue made of her family in the campaign.

As most of you know, I find this mansion argument completely bogus. Jim Thompson moved out of the mansion as soon as his daughter was old enough to go to school. Jim Edgar moved to a “log cabin” after his wife complained about hearing gunfire at night. George Ryan spent time in the mansion, but he also had a condo in Chicago and a house in Kankakee.

There is no law that requires the governor to live in Springfield full time. The executive mansion is not like the White House - it’s not a place of work.

Should Gov. Blagojevich (and future governors) spend more time in Springfield? Without a doubt. However, I wouldn’t want my kids going to school in Springfield if I was governor. There’s no way they could get fair (or decent) treatment.

So, here’s the question: Convince me that I’m wrong. No goofy emotional drive-by comments, please. Use some reasoning and logic or find yourself deleted.

- Posted by Rich Miller   88 Comments      

Watch the hacks

Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

* You can watch the Chicago City Council right now live on the Intertubes. The debate started at 10 o’clock. Click here for the video.

* Background

Chicago has come a long way since the days when television cameras were not allowed to broadcast or record City Council meetings.

In those days, it took an order from then-Finance Committee Chairman Tom Keane, introduced at each meeting, to let the cameras roll.

Fast forward more than three decades. After years of talk, City Council meetings will finally be televised live on the Internet, starting today.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

“I’ve got to check with my makeup artist,” joked Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th).

You need more than makeup, Pat.

* More

Ald. Edward Burke (14th), a leader of the push to the Internet, said he hopes schoolchildren will view Thursday’s meeting, and all the council meetings thereafter, from their classroom computers

Please. Let’s hope not.

Watch and discuss.

- Posted by Rich Miller   9 Comments      

Hypocrisy defined

Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

* These guys are so blatantly hypocritical sometimes…

The Blagojevich administration’s efforts to promote a capital spending bill came to Springfield Wednesday, touted as a way to build a $10 million simulated hospital at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. […]

In Springfield on Wednesday, labor leaders, educators and others touted the simulated hospital that would give physicians training in situations they will encounter in emergency rooms, operating rooms, intensive care, obstetrics and other areas before dealing with patients.

* Why the hypocrisy? Check out what’s buried way down in that SJ-R story…

Michael Boer, chairman of the commission that oversees Springfield’s medical district, also attended Wednesday’s event, even though Blagojevich cut $350,000 from the state budget that would have allowed the district to hire full-time staffers.

“Because we don’t have staff doesn’t mean we aren’t concerned with accomplishing the purposes we were created for,” he said. “The most important one is creating health-care-related economic development in the (district).”

[Emphasis added.]

* Speaking of hypocrisy, the Daily Herald looks at the governor’s flip-flops on gaming…

When Gov. Rod Blagojevich backed a casinos-for-construction deal last week, it marked the second time in recent months he’d reneged on a campaign promise to oppose gambling expansion.

He first broke that promise in May when he offered his support for a Senate casino deal that would have funded the governor’s coveted health care expansion. At the time, Blagojevich said he wasn’t thrilled with more casinos, but he’d make the sacrifice if it meant health coverage for needy families.

“Without health care, I’m not going to accept any new gaming proposals,” Blagojevich said in late May.

That plan never came to fruition.

Now, he’s backing the biggest gambling expansion since the state first legalized riverboat gambling even though it has nothing to do with health care.

* While we’re on the topic of gaming, last fall the governor’s budget honcho John Filan wrote a guest piece for this blog trashing Judy Baar Topinka’s gaming plan, which was smaller than the governor’s plan now on the table…

When you increase the gaming opportunities in the State as much as Topinka has suggested, these opportunities begin to become counterproductive. That is, casinos are luring the same dollars statewide, and these dollars will begin to be split among facilities, rather than moved from other facilities. Some market share will be taken from Indiana and Wisconsin casinos, and as a result, we estimate based on studies by Deloitte Consulting, LLC and the Illinois Department of Revenue that about $600-700 million annually may be obtained from recurring revenues, about half the $1.25 billion annually that Topinka predicts. There is absolutely no empirical support for an additional $1.25 billion in revenue per year.

* And despite all the talk of a massive infusion of immediate cash from the governor’s proposal, Filan had this to say about the timeline of getting a Chicago casino built and operating…

As most of us know and as suggested in the discussion about capital above, it takes time to build additional space, we estimate very aggressively no less than 9 months for existing casinos and 18 months for the Chicago casino. This means that the full value of the gaming expansion won’t be available until 2010 or 2011- at the earliest. And this doesn’t even take into account the amount of time the 10th license will remain in limbo.

* More budget stuff, compiled by Paul…

* Deeper CTA cuts in ‘08 officials warn

* Illinois gaming industry lobbies for Internet gaming

* Governor sees support for casinos, Madigan wary

* State plans for casinos runs into trouble

* State leaders talking, but no progress seen

* Senate deal may make winner out of Watson

* Leaders tout capital spending plan

* Leaders push capital budget

* CPR: Blago and legislative leaders meet to resolve disagreements

* Push for health-care expansion continues

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Sandoval blasts Blagojevich on veto, but there’s more than meets the eye

Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

* As you already know, the governor vetoed all of CeaseFire’s appropriation for the current fiscal year. The group has been holding demonstrations across the state and did another one in Chicago yesterday

Supporters of the violence intervention group CeaseFire said Wednesday that shootings will increase if the Chicago-based organization does not receive the $6.2 million that Gov. Rod Blagojevich vetoed from the state budget last month. […]

The governor cut $463 million intended for an assortment of projects. Blagojevich spokesman Justin DeJong said that CeaseFire has done good work but that the organization should find different sources for money to pay for its operations.

* More background

Cease Fire uses former gang members as neighborhood liaisons to intervene in gang feuds. They say there have been six fatal shootings since Cease Fire lost its funding.

“There’s a general feeling among gangs that if Cease Fire is not out there, it gives us a free reign,” Cease Fire outreach worker Melvin Santiago explained.

* And from the same story comes perhaps the harshest rhetoric I’ve ever seen used against Gov. Rod Blagojevich…

State Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) had some strong words for the governor. “The caskets and the killings partly lay at the door of Governor Rod Blagojevich,” Sandoval said.


* Despite the rhetoric and the dire predictions, this is not a black and white issue. The group has more than its share of critics and was whacked but good in a recent auditor general report. Then there’s this

The Chicago Police Department has supported CeaseFire’s work for years, with former Police Supt. Philip Cline and other officials calling for an expansion of the program. On Wednesday, though, police spokeswoman Monique Bond said the department can’t back a claim that CeaseFire helps reduce crime. ‘While CeaseFire has made significant contributions to the community and has been recognized by their presence and anti-violence programs, it would be difficult to quantify operationally how those programs translate into reduced homicides, shootings and violent crime,’ she said.

* More background on the audit…

The audit found that of $6.5 million the legislature promised to communities over a two-year period, CeaseFire disbursed $5.4 million, using the rest on expenditures not specified in state documents, Holland said.

Usually, the legislature could demand that CeaseFire return that $1.1 million because the program didn’t spend it as intended, Holland said. But that law doesn’t apply because most of CeaseFire’s money was doled out through the “member initiative” process that lets lawmakers fund pet projects in their districts.

That last point is really why the funding was vetoed. The program was supported mostly by House Democrats and had some powerful opponents among Senate Democrats, so Blagojevich axed the cash. Simple as that.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      

Weller district leaning Dem? And Pera gets important backing for primary bid

Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

* Pundit and prognosticator Bob Novak classifies retiring Republican Congressman Jerry Weller’s seat as “Leaning Democratic Takeover” in a recent newsletter update…

Illinois-11: Rep. Jerry Weller (R), another Republican under a cloud of scandal and suspicion of corruption, will retire from Congress at the end of this term. Weller is married to a Guatemalan lawmaker and says the long-distance relationship was becoming a strain.

This district stretches West from Chicago’s South Side, including Joliet and Ottawa, and reaches South to Bloomington. It was a near tie in the 2000 elections, but Bush carried it by seven points in 2004. It is wedged between the districts of retiring Representatives Dennis Hastert (R) and Ray LaHood (R), and politically it lies between them — slightly more Democratic than Hastert’s 14th District and slightly more Republican than LaHood’s 18th.

While the district leans slightly Republican, the shadow of Weller’s corruption could give Democrats an edge. Early Democratic candidates include Kankakee Community College President Jerry Weber (D). The Republican field is still nascent. Depending on the nominees, this could go either way, but unless Weller’s shadow departs quickly, this one looks like the Democrats’ strongest chance in Illinois. Leaning Democratic Takeover.

* The Joliet Herald has more potential candidates in a story today…

Joliet Mayor Art Schultz is talking to his family about whether he should run for Congress.

State Sen. Debbie Halvorson plans to spend this weekend in Washington, D.C., as she explores whether to make a bid for the U.S. House. […]

State Sen. Christine Radogno, a Republican who made an unsuccessful bid for state treasurer last fall, is considering a bid. She lives in Lemont, just outside the 11th district, and her Senate district covers part of Will County.

Other Republicans mulling a bid are New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann and Chris McNeil of Frankfort, who made an unsuccessful run last year for the Legislature.

Democrats who might run include candidates who lost to Weller in past elections, John Pavich, a Beecher lawyer who ran a year ago, and Tari Renner, an Illinois Wesleyan University professor who ran in 2004. Jerry Weber, the president of Kankakee Community College, might also run.

Another potential candidate is former state Sen. Patrick Welch, a Democrat who was defeated in his 2004 re-election bid, said several Will County Democrats. Welch, of Peru, had served in the Senate leadership team during 22 years in the chamber.

Welch is one of the newest names on that list. Also, state Rep. Brady says he’s undecided on whether to run for Rep. Weller’s seat.

* Meanwhile, I kinda doubt that Mark Pera can defeat conservative Congressman Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary, but his campaign is drawing national attention from some influential blogs and websites. Faithfully Liberal has an interview with Pera

This campaign is receiving more blogger support than any other primary campaign in the country as far as I can tell. As an example, on Sept. 23, Markos Moulitsas wrote a piece on DailyKos endorsing our campaign. Over the next 24 hours, we received more than $10,000 from more than 200 people. In early September, we had a similar experience. That kind of response tells us that our message is resonating and gives the campaign a big lift.

The blogs, sites like Act Blue, these are communication modes that were in their infancy in 2004, made a major impact in the mid-term elections in 2006 and are now an invaluable tool for campaigns. We’ve made a quality, up-to-date Web site and blogger communications a campaign priority. That sets us apart from other candidates.

A number of folks out there, such as the people at Prairie State Blue, Larry Handlin, Howie Klein, Eric Stoller, David Sirota and others, deserve credit for boosting this campaign’s profile. They’ve helped get our message out and clue people in on Congressman Lipinski’s background and voting record. Their hard work compliments the work we do everyday at our campaign office. We hope they keep it up in the months ahead.

* Exerpts from Kos’ endorsement

And today, the machine is spitting out primary challengers in the district to dilute the anti-Lipinski vote. One of the other primary challengers, Palos Hills mayor Gerald Bennett, has a history of lauding Lipinski, including in Lipinski’s press release announcing his reelection […]

Now, suddenly, when it looks like Lipinski could go down in a primary, this huge Lipinski ally somehow decides it’s time to get into the race? It couldn’t possibly be more transparent. Not that the Chicago machine ever played things deftly.

So here’s our chance to fight back against an undermocratic machine, against an unDemocratic Democrat.

* ActBlue, a website devoted to raising funds for Democratic candidates, reports over $40,000 in contributions to Pera so far. That pales in comparison to the $136,000 raised on behalf of Dan Seals, one of two Democratic candidates who want to challenge Congressman Mark Kirk, but it ain’t bad.


- Posted by Rich Miller   28 Comments      

Morning shorts

Thursday, Sep 27, 2007

* Poshard meets with plagiarism committee

* County tax hike likely, but how much?

“I’ve never seen a government leader ask for a tax increase to pay for a budget that doesn’t exist,” said Commissioner Forrest Claypool. “It’s unprecedented.”

Yet a majority of the County Board is indicating they can support some kind of tax hike for government operations, and first up will be a sales tax discussion at a board meeting Monday.

* Kane Co. agrees to provide more aid for Hispanic voters

* Crain’s: Sun-Times Media Group, which owns the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, said on Wednesday it named a new chief operating officer, replacing the prior COO who left the company to join the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

* Sun-Times journalists’ union OKs contract

* Sneed: Gush & blush

Homespun diva Martha Stewart gushed and made Mayor Daley blush Wednesday after the two met privately after a Stewart speaking engagement at Navy Pier.

• • Gush ‘em: “My goodness mayor, the city is more beautiful than ever,” Stewart told Daley.

• • Blush ‘em: Called the “Martha Stewart of mayors” because of his efforts to beautify the city, Daley responded with a laugh and “really blushed,” said a Sneed source. Then the duo had a 15-minute chat, but I don’t think it was about recipes.

* Daley ‘action teams’ to tackle drugs

- Posted by Paul Richardson   6 Comments      

* Pressure builds on Alvarez, McCarthy
* Final day to file!
* SEIU claims court victory on health insurance
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* So long, Kurt!
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* Time heals most wounds
* NYT looks at Griffin, Rauner
* LaQuan McDonald case: Three suggestions for state action
* Yesterday's blog posts

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